9 Jul 2015

The big freeze: What you need to know

9:13 pm on 9 July 2015

The bitter southerly weather system is expected to ease but motorists are being warned to be vigilant, carry chains and drive to the conditions.

Heavy snow watches remain in place for northern Hawke's Bay and southern Gisborne and some areas of the upper South Island.

However, MetService is forecasting conditions to generally improve.

Snow warnings are still in place for the Desert Road, Porter's Pass, Lewis Pass and the Napier-Taupo Road which are expected to continue into tomorrow.

There has been heavy snow all day around Hanmer, with over 35 centimetres in the morning alone.

Snow has hit eastern parts of the country.

While it reached parts of Wellington and the Kapiti Coast.

The Transport Agency is warning drivers to be vigilant in Canterbury, Otago and Southland as the wintry blast continues to affect many roads.

Its warning that with frosts forecast for overnight, motorists need to stay alert for black ice across the South Island tomorrow morning.

Snow has closed the main routes through the centre of the North Island and drivers using other roads are being warned to take extreme care.

The Rimutaka Hill Road is closed again.

The main route, State Highway 1 the Desert Road from Waiouru to Rangipo is closed, the section of State Highway 1 further south, from Waiouru to Taihape is now open with a caution. The alternative route, via National Park is now open but with a caution.

The Napier to Taupo road is forecast to receive another dumping of snow this evening.

In the South Island the road into Milford Sound is open.

North Island roads

SH 2 Rimutaka Hill, Wellington - closed

SH 2 Wairoa to Gisborne - closed

SH 1 Waiouru to Rangipo - closed

SH 1 Waiouru to Taihape - closed

SH49 - Waiouru to Ohakune - closed

SH 47 National Park to Turangi - closed

SH 4 Raetihi to Taumarunui - closed

SH 4 Raetihi to Wanganui - closed

South Island roads:

SH 94 Te Anau to Milford Sound, Southland - now open, motorists urged to carry chains

SH 73 Springfield to Arthurs Pass - closed to towing vehicles, chains essential

SH 8 Tarras To Omarama, Otago - open caution

Click here for all of the latest road closures throughout the country

Send your weather pictures or video to us at iwitness@radionz.co.nz

The storm system has been moving North towards Havelock North with snow now falling in the Hastings District in the Tukituki Valley past Mt Kahuranaki.

David Petersen, who farms about 8 kilometres south east of Waipukurau, said the hills to the east of him towards the coast are white with snow.

Mr Petersen said it snows about every couple of years where he is but this was the heaviest he has seen.

"Its an odd weather pattern because one moment the sky is blue and the next it is cloudy with heavy snow," he said.

Mr Petersen said his house was on a hill and at the moment the snow was not causing any problems for stock who are lower down.

Metservice is forecasting a ridge of high pressure is going to move over from the Tasman Sea, bringing drier and sunnier conditions.

But it says the light winds and clear skies overnight will lead to cold mornings.

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